One of the toughest challenges for any business is getting clients. For photographers the question of how to get clients, how to fill their calendar, and how to have people who are eager and willing to book is ever present. I’m Tanya Smith, and I’ve been a boudoir photographer since 2011. Boudoir photography marketing has the unique marketing hurdle that other portrait genres don’t encounter in that many of our clients prefer their intimate photos to remain confidential.
This poses a unique challenge: “How can we market our business if we can’t show what we do?” On top of that, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have strict guidelines about what they consider “sexual content,” which further complicates our marketing efforts. So what do we do? How do we get our work in front of our ideal clients?
For all genres, but especially for boudoir, your marketing strategy should focus on these key elements: helping your clients get to know you so they can trust you, while also complying with social media rules. If we don’t follow the rules, we could lose our social media accounts, a fate that has befallen many in our industry.
Building Trust in Boudoir Photography
We’ve all had that client who absolutely rocks her shoot but decided not to share any of her photos. Yes, it’s disappointing, but pretty common. Obviously you need to respect your client’s wish, but here are a few things you can do to increase the chances of having images you can share and use in your boudoir photography marketing materials.
Capture Anonymous, Faceless Photos
Of course we still want to show images with a face, and showing emotion and connection, but women are much more likely to allow you to share images that don’t show her face or identity. Make sure you add those anonymous and detail shots into your shoot flow. I only ask about sharing images at the ordering session and only after they have chosen their images. Then I ask “which images can I share”, instead of asking “can I share your images”. This way you go through their session, and she can choose which images she is ok with you sharing. It is very rare to have a boudoir client be ok with you sharing all of their photos, but 95% of clients will let you share some. Especially if you are making sure to add those detail and anonymous shots in their selection.
Ask for In-Studio Only Permission
You can also ask if you can share “in studio” only…some women don’t want you to share online but are totally fine with you showing women that come in your studio. Make sure to ask, and of course, always have them sign an image release.
Navigating Social Media Guidelines
Compliance is crucial with social media boudoir photography marketing. Even if a client gives you the go-ahead to share their nude photos, posting them on social media can get you shut down. Best advice? Follow the rules when posting, and if you are running ads and you want them to get approved, don’t show traditionally “boudoir-ish” images. You can use images of your boudoir studio, images of you, or more “beauty” images, with not too much skin showing.
10 Proven Boudoir Photography Marketing Strategies
So yes, we have unique challenges, but how do you actually find clients? And how can you set yourself up to be booked solid, so you don’t have to worry where your next booking is coming from?
If you are struggling to find clients right now, let’s dive into my top 10 proven and actionable strategies for finding and booking boudoir clients, as well as that BIG mistake you are probably making that is affecting your ability to get booked…and how to fix it).
#10 Content Crafting For Your Target Market
Most businesses don’t pay enough attention to this. They post a recent photo with hardly an explanation and expect clients to flood to their DMs.
A big way to market any business is putting out free content, whether that is on social media, your website, your emails or other platforms.
Most photographers don’t give much thought about what they post, or they are posting for photographers and not for finding clients. Before you post anything you must know who you are talking to so that what you post will resonate with the exact client you want to work with.
For example, a meme you think is funny, but is something that would appeal more to your friend group, or maybe someone much younger than your ideal client, is something you should avoid posting. Your content needs to help your perfect client get to know you better, so they can decide if they can trust you.
You can post boudoir images for sure, but if your client is a mom in her mid- 40’s, posting images of models in their 20’s will not help your client feel like you are the photographer for her.
#9 Private Facebook Group
If you haven’t yet set up a group for past and potential clients, you are missing out. It’s still an excellent platform for connecting and sharing content that appeals to your ideal client.
A private group is especially useful as a boudoir photographer because women will feel more comfortable posting about their experience and their images there. You can ask past clients to invite their friends, who are usually just like them, so they are probably also your ideal client. Again, keep in mind what you post in this group, with your client in mind.
#8 Voice Memos for Direct Messages
This is an easy yet overlooked strategy. I always encourage people to send me PMs or DMs, because when they do, I respond with a voice message. It’s much more personal and easier than typing, or getting on the phone, and people love it! It’s a great way to turn an inquiry into a client because people will trust you more just by hearing your voice. And remember, if they get to know, like and trust you they are more likely to book.
#7 Gift Vouchers
Instead of offering free shoots to build your portfolio, give a voucher with a dollar value. For the first 18 months, the majority of my sessions were voucher shoots- I gave them out everywhere.
Give a voucher worth the cost of a certain number of images on your price list. For example if you want to use images for your portfolio, and your lowest collection is $1200, give a voucher for that amount, with the understanding that you are allowed to use the images for boudoir photography marketing.
If you just want to use a voucher to get people in front of your camera, do a lower amount which means people need to spend some money with you. This way you won’t require people to sign an image release.
Think of a voucher like a gift certificate that they can apply to their invoice. The idea is if you are showing them 30+ beautiful images they will (hopefully) want to buy more than what the voucher covers.
#6 Expos & Shows
Invest in securing a booth at a local event or even a large-scale international bridal or women’s show. The objective should be to introduce yourself to a new audience and convert them into followers. I bring a heap of vouchers to these events and I also run a giveaway to generate interest. However, the ultimate goal is to collect as many email addresses as possible. This allows me to nurture these new leads, helping them get familiar with who I am and build that essential “know, like and trust” relationships. Are you seeing a theme here?
#5 Run A Sale
Here is another strategy to boost your revenue and fill up your calendar: run a special promotion.
I have a specific approach for executing these promos. Basically, you slash the cost of your session fee and throw in a few enticing bonuses upon making a purchase. For instance, I offer a $99 deal that provides the client with bonuses of $1500, with purchase, all for just $99.
It’s an absolute bargain for them, and these promos, when set up properly, consistently rake in significant profits for me. The biggest sale I ran generated over $80,000 in sales and booked my calendar for months. One of my students used my strategy for running a Black Friday sale and managed to book her calendar for 7 months in advance.
These sales are effective when executed with a plan. I have a mini-course that walks you through the steps to make your next sale profitable.
#4 Client Testimonials
Testimonials are essential, especially for boudoir photographers. Social proof in the form of testimonials can be a powerful tool.
Remember about the trust factor? A boudoir shoot is usually outside of the comfort zone of your client, so having some words from another woman is a great way to help your potential clients trust you.
People want to hear from other people just like them.
Ask specific questions to get meaningful quotes from your clients and share them across all your platforms.
#3 Before & Afters / Transformations
Much like testimonials, before-and-after photos serve as a form of social proof, and build trust.
Transformation images are particularly effective in the boudoir photography niche. Many women often doubt that they can look as stunning as the polished images they see from your portfolio. However, if they see a “before” picture of an everyday woman that looks just like her, and then sees their “after” shot, suddenly it becomes more relatable. They start to think “if she can look like that, then maybe I can too!”
This approach dispels their concerns and, once again, we are building another layer of trust between you and your potential clients.
#2 A Lead Magnet + Regular Emails
A lead magnet is a free offering you provide to your target audience. It’s something they will find useful, for example a guide on “How to take a sexy selfie” or a “lingerie shopping guide”.
In return for this valuable freebie, they give you their email address. They get something they enjoy or find useful, and you get a way to stay in touch with them.
You’ll use this email list to send out regular communications, aiming to build that relationship based on trust, familiarity, and likability. The goal is that your emails are so engaging, and your lead magnet so valuable, that they will want to book a session with you.
If this sounds like a lot, you will be happy to know you can set it all up to run on auto pilot using an email provider, like Flodesk or Mailchimp. If you want help, I have a mini course on how to do that step-by-step, so it runs on its own, continually nurturing those leads and converting them into clients.
Lastly, one of the most effective yet often overlooked strategies for securing your ideal client is something you’re probably neglecting. This is that big mistake, and it’s sabotaging your boudoir photography marketing efforts and costing you bookings.
#1 The Art of Following Up
A lot of photographers drop the ball after sending an initial email in response to an inquiry.
If this is you, don’t feel bad- I did it too.
If someone is reaching out to you, that is a warm lead. They showed enough interest to contact you but then got sidetracked-maybe life got in the way or your reply email got lost in their spam folder.
You should be doubling down on these leads to really maximize your boudoir photography marketing. The common misconception is that you’re “annoying” or “bothering” potential clients by following up. But real talk here; they initiated contact, so it’s totally fine to message them again.
I recommend following up six times. If there’s still radio silence after that, only then do I consider them a dead lead. More often than not, they are grateful for the nudge and end up booking a session.
Don’t sleep on this. Implement a system where you follow up every few days until they either book, or specifically say no. You can easily set this up in your CRM, I use 17Hats for this, but you can use almost any studio management software for this.
You’d be surprised how many people appreciate the reminder and end up becoming clients.
There are countless other methods to attract boudoir clients, but if you nail these 10 strategies, and do them consistently, you will see an increase in your bookings.